Thursday, June 27, 2019

Julie Howard about ending a series.

Just as I'm starting my first series, Julie Howard came along to talk about the painful end of a series. This is what she had to say~

I’m one of those people who loves to read huge books. Give me War and Peace, or The Stand, or any (good) book with more than 800 pages. When I enter a world I enjoy and find characters I want to be with, I hate coming to the last page.

I feel the same way about TV series. Seriously, Downton Abbey is gone for good?! Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones. I’m always a little depressed when series are over.

Now, I’m facing a new ending. This year I wrote the final book in my Wild Crime series, finishing the story about Meredith Lowe and her life in Hay City, Idaho. Book one, Crime and Paradise, began with her panicking about moving to the remote Idaho community with her increasingly abusive husband. In that book, she fantasized daily about her husband’s death and killing him. Book two, Crime Times Two, continued her journey of moving past the haunting of deaths and finding love. Wild Crime brings her back to her beginning, chasing her mother’s past in order to discover who she is.

When I started this small series, I already knew the ending. Four years later, the final book is under contract and will be published in late 2019. It turns out I didn’t know the ending at all. The final pages were a thrill to write – they came as a surprise even to me. When I was done, I thought: Of course this is how it all turns out. And I realized I always knew what was coming after all.

I celebrated those last words! And then depression set in. Wild Crime won’t be published until late this year and already I miss my characters. I want to see the children grow up, and learn more about deli-boy and Honey. I want to spend more time with Curtis, the county sheriff. Could I cheat a little and write just one more book? But no, the story is done and it’s time to move on.

The only thing I hate worse than a series ending is one that lingers too long. Sometimes you grow out of them (Sesame Street), but oft times they get stale (Grey’s Anatomy). There’s always a point as a viewer or reader where I either start to get bored or the plot is strikingly similar to an earlier one in the series.

As a writer, it’s hard to know when to let go. Some stories are exactly one excellent book long; others take three or five or seven books. It’s hard to judge when the characters are your own and, complicating matters, some readers want the series to go on forever. You can’t please everyone.

I have another series under development and have been wondering how many books it will involve. I’m not yet sure. I know my main character needs more than one or two books to reach the end of her story. But high in my mind is not to go one book more than the series needs.

Crime Times Two is on a limited-time sale for the first time, for 99 cents!

Crime Times Two: When divorce is out of the question, can murder be forgiven?

Blurb from “Crime Times Two”:
Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.
While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder. 
As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…
She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Excerpt from “Crime Times Two”:

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.
Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.
Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”
The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.
He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

Buy Links:


Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at

Social media

Twitter: @_juliemhoward


  1. Ooh, love that excerpt! I haven't become immersed in a TV series in months - who has the time?- but the most recent one I was sorry to see end was The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I hope they plan to make a third season. One of the book series I loved was the Amelia Peabody mysteries by wonderful, late, Elizabeth Peters.

  2. I agree with you about series, but maybe you can do a spinoff with some of the characters you like?

  3. Great post, Julie. I've been contemplating just this question, myself. My Buffalo Steampunk Adventures series is running strong right now with book 7 about to be submitted, and book 8 already written. But when should it end? I asked my editor, who advised me not to put a cap on it. After all, look how many books were in Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld series!

  4. love love love this series. Julie has a gift for creating wonderful, multi-layerd characters who make me laugh out loud. Plus, she writes "little kids" really well. Meredith [the heroine] has a daughter who is an absolute hoot. This third book will top them all. Promise. Good luck with the new series, Jules!!

  5. Totally understand how you feel, Julie. I lived with my characters for over a decade, so saying goodbye to them was bittersweet. Perhaps you could do a spin-off with the other characters? Or children? Wishing you continued success.

  6. I enjoyed this post. The older I get, the shorter I like books to be, and the same with series. I sometimes think I have a case of brand-new-itis, because I'm always happy with an all-new setting and cast of characters.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Love your series, and I'm sad it's ending. Good luck with your new series.

  9. I can completely relate to this post. My Destiny Trilogy started out as a short story! Each book in the trilogy features a different character though, and I really hate to think the series is finished, I grew fond of all the main charaters. There is one though who is nagging at me for his own story... could the trilogy become a quadrilogy? Thanks for a fascinating and thought provoking post.